Toying with the 50th parallel north for months, writer and creative strategist Lien De Ruyck joins a team of three adventurers as they travel east from Brussels to New York. Riding a KTM 790 ADVENTURE with no reservations or time limitations, the 33-year-old is opening herself to every experience this once in a lifetime trip has to offer.
Three months, three friends, three motorcycles, three continents, three oceans and a total of 30,000 km in some of the most remote parts of the planet… Joined by her two riding companions, Belgium native Lien De Ruyck left Brussels on Thursday, May 30, for a big trip into the great unknown.
“We decided to travel east from Belgium, toying with the 50 degrees Northern latitude,” confirms Lien. “We wanted to go where the road would take us, without reservations, expectations or time-limitations. Open-minded, with our camping gear packed and the sun hitting our faces. Motonauts on the highway of the cosmos, following in the footsteps of Carol Dunlop and Julio Cortázar…”
We caught up with Lien via email while she was in Seoul and about to kickstart the second part of her trip on the North American continent. After completing 17,500 km on the KTM 790 ADVENTURE, the young adventurer shared with us the highlights of this great overland journey and provided her feedback on the bike she’s been riding across the globe…
The start of it all.
“Setting off from Belgium, we traveled across the eastern part of Europe before landing in Ukraine. From there, the road took us into the great unknown as we entered Russia to travel to Volgograd, Omsk, Novosibirsk and Ulgi. After our first encounter with Russia, Mongolia and the infamous Gobi Desert brought us into most daring part of our trip.”
“The infamous Road of Bones [ed. R504 Kolyma Highway in Russia] forced us 2,500 kilometer through the untamed wilderness of the Siberian woods. From Yakutsk – the second coldest town on earth – we traveled to Magadan, which is notorious for its historical connection with the Gulag. Since Magadan is quite literally the end of the line, we retraced our steps on the Road of Bones before heading to the finish line of our Trans-Siberian trip in Vladivostok.”
“In this first half of the journey we passed through twelve different time zones already. During this whole trip, one thing I liked about the KTM 790 ADVENTURE is its great weight distribution. Thanks to the placement of the fuel tank, the bike handles incredibly both on and off the road. It’s a lightweight and enjoyable motorcycle in this big-boy travel bike league.”
As far as the eye can see…
“One of the most impressive moments was driving across the plains of Mongolia. Empty plains stretch as far as the eye can see and suddenly our dirt track splits in different directions. Not into two, but into something akin to a river delta. Every track winds its way through valleys and across hills, with loose sand or rocks and with lots of elevation. But at the end, all tracks come together and meet. This leads to an unbelievable feeling of freedom while riding. Every rider can choose their track knowing that we will meet several kilometers later.”
“After 41 days of travelling, we left Ulan Ude and headed towards Vladivostok, the end of the second stage of our journey. From that day onward, we raced the Trans-Siberian train all the way to Vladivostok. Coming around a bend and getting a magnificent view of the legendary train disappearing into a tunnel beneath the mountain makes you feel almost insignificant.”
“In these remote pieces of land, a great feature of my bike was its extremely low fuel consumption. Combined with the large 20-litre fuel tank, that would allow me to put in nearly 500 km in one single filling. That can be a life-saving feature when traveling through the forests of Siberia or the endless Mongolian plains.”
Life changing experiences.
“When planning this trip, we played ‘connect-the-dots’ between the points we definitely had to visit. One of those points was the Carpathian Mountain range, and specifically the Transfăgărășan pass in Romania. We were hoping on magnificent views and endless hairpins, and we got what we wished for…”
“During the night an avalanche of snow blocked the upper part of the pass and made it impossible to cross. Upon driving down, we encountered another avalanche below us, this time rocks and mud. Mother Nature had her way, and we got to spend an extra 4 hours driving up and down the pass while waiting for the locals to clear our way.”
“No matter how much time we spent searching for info online in advance, nothing could prepare us for the experience of traveling through remote areas. When riding through Russia, for example, we were staggered to come across a piece of Canada sooner into the trip than expected.”
“The Altai region in the South-Eastern part of Western Siberia will forever hold a special place in my heart. Every turn showed a new view of far sights into valleys and snowcapped mountaintops and the rivers were as icy blue as the ones in Canada or Alaska. Combine that with the twists and turns of the Altai and you see why the ‘Golden Mountains of Altai’ is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”
“But perhaps the most unexpected experience we’ve had so far was completely unrelated to the motorcycle-aspect of our journey. Upon running into some technical difficulties with one of my companion’s bike, we were taken in by two different families in a small village in the middle of Siberia.”
“Their hospitality and willingness to drop everything they were doing to help a few bikers they never met before is one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had. Compared to our Western standards, these people had nothing, yet they were prepared to share everything with strangers they will probably never see again.”
The KTM 790 ADVENTURE
“For me the KTM 790 ADVENTURE is the ideal bike for this long trip. It packs a punch that is incomparable to any other bike in the middle-weight class I’ve ridden. When turning the throttle, the response is immediate and so is the adrenaline rush.”
“By selecting any of the different ride modes I can adjust the throttle response quite nicely. With the right response from the engine, it is an absolute joy to ride in any kind of terrain. Combine that with the ABS configuration and you get a great travel machine that can take you safely and with fun over any terrain.”
“Thanks to the smooth engine mapping and the smooth twin-cylinder engine, the power delivery feels almost linear while shifting through the gears. Through long stretches of asphalt in Russia or gravel and rocky paths in Mongolia, the 790 ADVENTURE has been a blast to ride.”